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Office reopening, and SMB owners bank satisfaction

Microsoft is reopening its offices.   The company is fully reopening its Washington State locations on Feb 28, 2022.     In this configuration, working from home, work schedule flexibility, and work location are now flexible in negotiation with managers.   Employees will have 30 days from February 28th to “make adjustments to their routines and adopt the working preferences they’ve agreed upon with their managers, and Employees must upload proof of vaccination to return to the workplace,

Amazon announced that employees vaccinated against COVID-19 could ditch their masks, which started last week, the company said in an internal memo.   Face coverings remain required for anyone entering facilities who is not fully vaccinated and for employees who have not logged their vaccination status in Amazon’s A to Z internal reporting tool.

And in other COVID-related news, JD Power released its US Merchant Satisfaction study last week, and small business owners are more satisfied with their merchant services providers now than in 2021.  J.D. Power found that changes made by the banks during the pandemic resulted in greater trust from small business owners. 73% of business owners said they are aware of at least one change made by banks due to COVID-related challenges, which led to a 71-point increase in satisfaction ratings.  Additionally, the study revealed that, with a better understanding of how payment processing fees work, small business owners saw a 33-point increase in overall satisfaction.

Why do we care?

I can’t say I’m surprised by the increase in satisfaction – let’s observe that on Jan 20th, I reported that only a third of PPP money went to workers, and the rest went to business owners and shareholders.    When your bank makes it easier to get you money, you like them more.   

I’ll observe we’re heading into what could be the most challenging portion of the pandemic – the transition to whatever is next.    As public health dictates less of the reasons for dispersed work, workers’ desires will be much more at the front.     That phrase “working preferences they’ve agreed upon with their managers” is doing a lot of heavy lifting because it’s unlikely that agreement will come quickly, and that’s why this is going to be particularly hard.